A review of Duolingo language learning course

So what is Duo Lingo?

English: Teddy bear with dice on body parts fo...
English: Teddy bear with dice on body parts for language learning game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Wiki at Duolingo at Wiki , it says that, “Duolingo is a free language-learning website and crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that, as users progress through the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and other documents”

The Wiki article also mentions this: “As of December 2012, Duolingo does not charge for either its translation or language services.”

Now I should be able to judge this service.  After all, in 2004-2005, I had 2 years of Spanish at the College of DuPage.  Now I haven’t used it that much.  This looks like a good opportunity to jump-start Spanish learning.

This is computer learning.  But it is enjoyable.  Sometimes I repeat a sentence back in Spanish.  Sometimes I will pick the correct translation.  And I might translate an English sentence to Spanish.

So what do others say?

There’s an MIT technology review  at The Cleverest Business Model in Online Education.  “It adds up to a free course several hundred hours long that can take a student from zero knowledge of a second tongue to what von Ahn describes as ‘intermediate level’ ability”.

PC Mag reviewed their phone application at Duolingo (for iPhone) and gave it four out of five stars.

And a test driver had this to say at Learning a language and translating the web: does Duolingo work? :

“…but language is not about words, it’s about meaning. And ultimately, this is where Duolingo falls short.”

OK, folks.  Suppose I complete the coursework before Duolingo fails.  It will be well worth it.  And if it succeeds, I can probably do advanced training.  Or take another language – like Chinese – if it becomes available.

But the training has many things I like.

It’s good to have  pronunciation practice, vocabulary, sentence translation and feedback.  There’s no professor, like I had at COD.  I’m waiting until what I learned from COD comes back to me.

So how do they make money?

Demonstrates grammar-based language learning
Demonstrates grammar-based language learning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article  at The Crazy Brilliant Idea Behind Duolingo sheds some light:

First, how you learn:

“They throw sentences and fragments at you from the language you’re looking to learn (chosen by an algorithm based on your skill level). Then, you try to translate that set of text. You can mark words that are causing you trouble, go back and review them with digital flashcards, and basically learn a language one sentence at a time.”

Next, the product:

“…All that text is being translated (for free, by you) into other languages with astonishing accuracy. Duolingo is then free to sell or do whatever it wants with this newly-translated text. Brilliant.”

And the Language Ninjas at Duolingo review says this about learning speed: “With Duolingo learning is fast.”

So forget all the reviews.  What do I think?  This stuff is great!  And I had 2 years of COD level Spanish to judge it by.

What about Superior Spider-Man?

You heard me talk about this in recent blog posts.  Just type in “Superior Spider-man” in Google and read the Wiki summary.  Basically, I’m boycotting the magazine – until the “real” Peter Parker returns.  I’ll keep reading the Wiki summary.  Occasionally, I might pick up an “interesting” issue.  My local comic story chain named the best Marvel title DareDevil and the best DC title Batman.  I’ll follow them both in the meantime.

Academic and business blog posts

Here are some blog posts I recommend from academic and business acquaintances of mine.

Why so many blog posts about kids?  Because we have too many US mass killing sprees.  Perhaps some good articles on proper childhood care can cure this current and future trend?


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